A five-member Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) accompanied by Indian officials today visited the “sanitised” areas at Pathankot airforce base in connection with probe into the January 2 terror attack targeting the strategic installation. The team, which came in a bus, was taken to the backside of the air base as workers of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress held protests outside against its visit.
The Pakistani team led by Punjab’s Additional Inspector General of Police, Counter Terrorism Department, Muhammad Tahir Rai earlier landed at Sri Guru Ramdas International Airport in Amritsar and then left for Pathankot by road amid tight security. A large number of security personnel, including Punjab Police SWAT team, were also deployed in view of the visit.
Officials said the JIT visited the sanitised areas of the IAF base where the attackers had sneaked into leading to the over 80-hour gun battle that left at least four terrorists and seven security personnel. Protesters carrying placards and black flags shouted slogans outside the base where the security forces have been deployed in strength.
The AAP and Congress protesters accused the BJP led government of hurting the sentiments of Indians by allowing Pakistan team to probe terror attack on Indian soil. AAP’s Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra, who was also in Pathankot, said allowing Pakistani JIT to visit the air base was “shameful and disgusting”.
“For the first time in 35 years, we are saying that ISI was not supporting terrorism... the same people who have killed our people have come here...this is so shameful and disgusting,” Mishra said.
“This is an insult of our mother India. We will not let Modi government to do this,” he said. Media was meanwhile kept at the bay. The Pakistani team includes ISI’s Lt Col rank officer.
Tanvir Ahmed, Lahore’s Deputy Director General Intelligence Bureau Mohammad Azim Arshad, Military Intelligence Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanver.
Government has made it clear that the Pakistani team will have “restricted” access to the air base with the NIA taking them to a select areas. Orange and blue coloured tarpaulin can be seen draping the interiors of the strategic facility, in an apparent indication of “visual prohibition” being put in place.
Investigators from India and Pakistan had met in Delhi yesterday. It is for the first time that that a Pakistani team has visited the country to probe a terror case. The opposition parties have slammed the move with Congress saying that according an almost “red carpet welcome” to JIT raised serious questions on procedural propriety in relation to compromise on national security and likened it to an accused investigating himself.